Why Shohei Ohtani Is About to Become MLB’s First $500 Million Man

Why Shohei Ohtani Is About to Become MLB’s First $500 Million Man

The rate of spending this offseason has been both frenetic and jarring, with more than $2 billion lavished on the 10 most expensive free agents in less than 10 weeks. But the most intriguing free agent in baseball history still looms. In 10 months, except last minute extension with the Angels of Los Angeleswill be Shohei Ohtanithe turn to venture into the open market. And the many who have pondered the two-way star’s upcoming contract keep coming up with a number:

500 million dollars.

Five seasons ago, when his salary was compressed and his potential was limitless, the entire industry lined up to recruit Ohtani from Japan. He was too young for free agency at the time, making him through the major league minimum and controllable for six seasons. Soon, of course, there will be no ceiling on Ohtani’s compensation. But some expect its market to be nearly as robust again, given the extravagant expectations it has already surpassed. And guessing Ohtani’s potential free agent contract has become a fun game throughout his sport. A sample of what we asked:

  • A former player and current analyst predicted a new record average annual value of $45 million to $50 million over eight years.

  • An agent, not his, guessed a 10-year, $430 million contract, which would exceed the average annual value of $40 million that Aaron Judge recently achieved and also surpassed Mike Troutrecord guarantee of $426.5 million.

  • A rival executive, who noted the excessive number of long-term deals handed out this offseason, took it even further, speculating a 12-year, $480 million megacontract.

And yet some believe those estimates could fall short, suggesting that if Ohtani continues on his current path and has another historic season as both a pitcher and hitter, an unprecedented and recently unimaginable round number not only it might be achievable, if not even likely.

American professional athletes have yet to reach $500 million; The closest, perhaps, is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million extension in 2020, though that deal only guarantees about $141 million. But there’s a growing belief that Ohtani could get there, and everything seems to be lining up to make it happen.

Below, we explore three key reasons for this belief, based on conversations with industry executives and stakeholders over the past few months.

We’ve never seen anyone like him

Ohtani is, simply put, a top-of-the-rotation starter and middle-of-the-order hitter in one package, at a time when the sport values ​​versatility and flexibility more than ever.

In 2021 and 2022, Ohtani ranked 10th in the majors in weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and ninth in the majors, among those with at least 200 innings, in expected independent pitches (xFIP). Put another way, Ohtani ranked in the top 8% in the most complete and comprehensive statistics for hitters and pitchers over a two-year period. pose yet another way:

Ohtani had a higher wRC+ than Austin Riley, Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado i Rafael Deversand had a lower xFIP than Aaron Nola, Framber Valdez, Max Scherzer, Max Fried i Sandy Alcantara — just to name a handful of the best at what they do.

In that stretch, Ohtani posted a major league-best 17.4 FanGraphs wins above replacement; only Judge (16.9) came close.

But Ohtani’s accomplishments extend far beyond his contemporaries; he’s doing things unmatched in baseball history, continually performing in a two-way role at a level not even Babe Ruth could maintain. The 2021 and 2022 seasons saw Ohtani post a .918 OPS with 80 home runs and 37 stolen bases, and a 2.70 ERA with 375 strikeouts in 296 1/3 innings.

He possesses prodigious power, blistering speed and a deep arsenal of devastating throws, but he also possesses the acumen and feel to translate that to the biggest stage of his sport, and he’s still young enough to project himself into the up

Most of the industry’s biggest contracts — for Francisco LindorFernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Corey Seager, Trout, Betts, Devers and Machado — were signed by players when they were 27 or younger. Ohtani will be a bit older, hitting the open market at age 29. In recent years, simply being under 30 has acted as a launching pad for mega-deals. But even that premise was shattered this offseason, with teams stretching offers to pay star players into their 30s and, in some cases, even into their 40s.. Judge, in particular, got a $360 million contract, the third-biggest guarantee and a record for a free agent, as a 30-year-old entering his age-31 season.

Judge received that deal, paid over nine years, on the heels of a historic season.

Ohtani, if he continues at this rate, he would be out three of them.

He has plenty of rich suitors, and little competition in free agency

Judge headlined this year’s free agent class, but it was nonetheless a deep and star-studded crop that also featured the likes of Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Rodon, Jacob de Grom i Justin Verlander. So, the sport’s leadoff hitter, four dynamic shortstops and three top-tier starting pitchers.

Next year’s group, executives are quick to point out, probably won’t be as talented.

The only players who are on track to become free agents and even come close to that level, if you squint a little, are probably Matt Chapmana third baseman; Josh Hader, a reliever; and a small handful of starting pitchers… Yu Darvish, Lucas Giolito, Blake Snell, Julio Urias and the aforementioned Nola.

The dynamic could change if Machado or Scherzer are sidelined. But Machado is expected to stick with the San Diego Parents, one way or anotherand Scherzer would become a free agent again at age 39, leaving a $43.3 million salary on the table to venture onto the open market.

The gap between Ohtani and the best player available, according to industry insiders, could be seismic, and the right teams could be highly motivated to sign him.

In conversations with rival agents and executives, one team is mentioned more often than any other: the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been heavily linked to Ohtani for years and appeared to be positioning themselves for a major run against him this offseason while also passing on top free agents in an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold and reinstate their sanctions. But the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants have been raised by a handful of rival executives in recent days, following Correa’s strange reunion with the Twins from Minnesota.

The Giants, who were willing to guarantee Correa $350 million over 13 years before becoming concerned about the long-term stability of his lower right leg, clearly desire a breakout star and have shown the kind of ingenuity the list that could make them ideal for unprecedented talent. The Mets, who had a 12-year, $315 million deal on the table for Correa before the same issue surfaced, employ the richest and most aggressive owner in sports, Steve Cohen. Billy Eppler, who originally recruited Ohtani to the Angels, is their general manager.

“I can see these two teams jumping,” said one longtime front office executive, “and that could really change the dynamic.”

They are far from alone. The Boston Red Sox he should be crying out for another superstar to pair with Devers after famously losing Bogaerts and Betts. The Seattle Mariners The team of one of Ohtani’s key role models, Ichiro Suzuki, has long been considered an ideal fit. The Chicago Cubs it is clear that no expenses have been incurred. The Angels, who could soon be under new ownership, would naturally want him back. And many other teams will surely jump at the chance to sign the most unique talent in sports history.

In the words of one agent: “Everybody’s going to want him.”

It’s a worldwide sensation

Ohtani is in many ways his own economy.

A major Japanese broadcasting corporation, NHK, televises the vast majority of Ohtani’s games in Japan and has four of its cameras permanently installed at Angel Stadium. NHK’s rights deal is negotiated through the international arm of Major League Baseball, meaning revenue is split evenly among the 30 teams. But the Angels individually get a lot of direct revenue from Ohtani, having signed a slew of six-figure endorsement deals with Japanese brands since his first season in 2018 and continually benefiting from the buzz surrounding his giveaways. , a reality for any team that uses it.

The Angels had seven Ohtani-related promotions last season. For their top five — three bobbleheads, a cap and, yes, a snow globe — they averaged more than 41,000 fans, with several thousand of them often waiting hours outside their stadium for the gates to open. . The average was less than 30,000 for the other 76 home games. The exact number isn’t known, and the Angels won’t provide one, but Ohtani is said to annually generate somewhere in the low tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the team, one of the main reasons why has not been changed. before his free agency.

Then there’s all the indirect income your presence provides. People fly in from as far as Japan to watch their games, which brings additional traffic to local restaurants and hotels and, in Anaheim’s case, theme parks. More than 50 members of the Japanese media are credentialed to cover it full-time, promoting the Angels brand to a nation of 125 million people. But Ohtani also clearly resonates in the U.S., where he graced the covers of GQ, Time, Sports Illustrated and the MLB video game The Show during a recent six-month stretch. His jersey was the seventh most purchased at the official MLB store in 2022, even though the Angels, a team that has missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons, were hardly relevant.

SponsorUnited, a sports and entertainment intelligence platform that tracks sponsorships worldwide, reported that Ohtani amassed 17 brand endorsements in 2022, breaking Judge’s record of 13 in 2021 (including : Asics, Hugo Boss, Fanatics, Seiko and Mitsubishi Bank). Ohtani also attracted 22 different Japanese brands to Angel Stadium, the company added. This is also considered a record.

It could also be his next contract.

#Shohei #Ohtani #MLBs #Million #Man

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